GREENVILLE, S.C. -- The Furman volleyball team return to action at home this weekend following a five-match road swing. The Paladins will entertain Western Carolina Friday at 6 p.m. and Appalachian State Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in Alley Gymnasium. Admission is free to the events.
The Paladins (15-5, 4-2 SoCon) posted a 3-0 league mark last week. Furman beat Wofford, 3-0, in Spartanburg, then headed to Charleston, where the team picked up a 3-0 win at The Citadel and landed a 3-1 victory over College of Charleston to snap the Cougars 21-match home SoCon win streak.
Furman defeated the Catamounts twice last season to take a 36-28 series lead. The Paladins beat Western Carolina, 3-1, in Cullowhee in 2011, then defeated the Catamounts, 3-0, in the opening round of the SoCon tournament.
Western Carolina enters Friday's match with a 7-14 season record and 3-3 league mark after falling to Davidson, 3-0, last Saturday. The Catamounts have claimed SoCon victories over Chattanooga, UNCG, and Appalachian State so far this season. Caitlin Piechota leads Western Carolina with 3.26 kills per set in 2012.
Furman dropped a 3-0 decision at Appalachian State last season. The Mountaineers lead the all-time series, 31-24. Appalachian State will play at Wofford Friday night before taking on the Paladins on Saturday. The Mountaineers enter the match in Spartanburg with a 5-15 overall mark and 1-5 league record. Lindsey Sauls paces the Mountaineers with 2.62 kills per set going into the weekend.
The Paladins are led by senior Chandler Ambrester, who was chosen the SoCon Offensive Player of the Week for her performance last week, and setter Jo Wilks, who was named the SoCon freshman of the week for the fourth time this season. Ambrester recorded 44 kills and 10 errors for a 4.40 kills per set average and notched a .330 attack percentage. She recorded double-digit kills in all three matches for the Paladins, including a 15 kill/18 dig performance in Furman's win at CofC. Wilks posted more than 40 assists in each of the three matches last week, for a total of 133 assists. Wilks tallied 50 assists and 10 digs in Furman's win at CofC on Sunday for her seventh double-double of the season.
Several Paladins ranked among the nation's leaders in the NCAA statistical rankings released on Monday. Wilks ranked fourth nationally with 12.23 assists per set, while senior Caroline Adams was 38th with a .378 hitting percentage. Ambrester ranked 51st with 4.03 kills per set. As a team, Furman ranked tenth with 13.65 assists per set and 18th with 14.39 kills per set. The team's .271 hitting percentage was the nation's 20th best.
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